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01. March 2010

Regional profile: The region of Southern Denmark is the European Welfare Tech region of the future

International leading position

Partners in the project, Welfare Tech Region include regional hospitals, Odense municipality, Region Southern Denmark, University of Southern Denmark and 27 companies. In this regard, Welfare Tech Region (henceforth WTR) is a mature and relatively big triple helix regional cluster.

The vision of the Cluster is to turn the region of Southern Denmark into an international renowned centre for the development, testing and implementation of welfare technology. This vision has been developed because the region already has several competitive advantages within this field. The focus of the cluster is to create growth and new working places in the region.

Chairman of Southern Denmark Growth Forum Carl Holst says: "We have a unique chance to kill two birds with one stone. With Welfare Tech Region we can create the foundation for the business adventure of the future and at the same time do something about the lack of staff in the social and healthcare sector that we are facing. We are already in the lead – also internationally. We must expand this leading position and so we should have the courage to act now."

Branches and definition of
“Welfare Technology”

The business branches included in the term “welfare technology” are: ICT, Telemedicin, Robotics and assistive technologies. ICT and Telemedicin are often included in the European term eHealth, and Assistive technologies is an integrated element of the term “Ambient Assisted Living”. Since a high number of the end users naturally will be the elderly population, the term Welfare Technology also covers all new types of products and services that might be produced under the headline of “Ageing Well”.

Welfare tech region comes from bridge building

In the year 2000 the first sketces were drawn to the so called “Bridgebuilding project” which should catapult growth within a number of sectors in the region of Southern Denmark. The aim of the project was to build triple helix partnerships around several business branches with cluster potential. From the Bridgebuilding project a whole range of positive bi-effects were created. First of all the project was the learning platform of how to carry out efficient and profitable triple helix co-operation. Furthermore, a number of institutions with close links to the private sector were established. Especially, RoboCluster and Medcom have since become strong players within robotics and telemedicine. The project also had the positive effect that the Danish Technology Institute, opened a centre with special focus on robotics.

2006 and beyond – trust leads to determined cooperation

In the fall of 2006 a number of structural changes, both on the regional level and in the way that business-promoting initiatives were handled at the municipal level opened up a window of opportunity to support the businesses in Southern Denmark on a whole new scale. Interpersonal relations, trust and knowledge about how to carry out triple helix co-operation lead to the focus on welfare technology which is still far ahead of other regions in Denmark and Europe in general.

The triple helix project called Sund Vækst – Healthy Growth - is thought to have had a catalyst effect on the focus of the potential benefits of welfare technologies. Further, a test of robotic vacuum cleaners in Odense, the interest of private companies several politicians and a region ready to dedicate funding and resources have led to the stage that we can see today. Today a high number of companies, public institutions and research institutes are working together to promote a branch of business with immense potential, and hereby turning South Denmark into the European Welfare Tech Region of the future.

 

Do you want to know more? Please contact Frank Rosengreen Lorenzen, South Denmark European Office at frl@southdenmark.be or Phone:  +32 2 234 68 55